SHOPPING HELP: Vicky Addison has been amazed at how her virtual high street shopping group has taken off
SHOPPING HELP: Vicky Addison has been amazed at how her virtual high street shopping group has taken off

A VIRTUAL shopping group in Barnard Castle started on bonfire night has gone off with a bang, racking up almost 1,000 members in a week.
Vicky Addison started the Barnard Castle Virtual Highstreet Shopping group on Facebook on November 5 to help businesses forced to close during the latest Covid-19 lockdown.
She drew on her own social media experience in marketing a Tropic range of skin care products. Mrs Addison said she came up with the idea while wondering where to get advent calendars for her children before the shops shut.
She said: “I thought a lot of people were panicking, thinking they can’t get the things they want. I have done groups before, but I didn’t know how it would take off.”
Mrs Addison has created a video to show businesses how to showcase their products on the group, creating a virtual shop window. She said: “If people can’t create an album I will do it for them and they can post to it.”
A diverse number of shops and services have signed up including Brookes Bespoke Tailors, Connelly’s Toy Shop, Wild Daisy, Teesdale Glass Engravers, Hollberrie Design and Fashion, Moments Cafe and 999 Fire and Safety.
Charity shops in the town have also signed up, along with people running small businesses from home.
Mrs Addison said: “It makes you aware of what businesses there are because I didn’t know half of these existed.”
Such was the reaction that Mrs Addison has taken on additional administrators to approve posts before they appear on the group, to ensure there is no “spam” and each business gets equal promotion.
People are being encouraged to react with a heart emoji when they have bought a product through the group, and for others to click the “thumbs up” button when they make a sale.
Mrs Addison said: “It makes me smile to see people getting sales for the group. If you can visualise what you would see if all the shops in Barnard Castle were closed – that is what it would be like if we don’t support them.”
Businesses that would like sign up, or people keen to support local shops by ordering online, can search for Barnard Castle Virtual Highstreet Shopping on Facebook and request to join the group.